Zak, Lakers split four-game series at ODU

GVSU returns to action on Tuesday at St. Joseph's (Ind.)

By Jay Bushen | 3/23/15 9:27am

GVL/Kevin Sielaff Kevin Zak
by GVL/Kevin Sielaff / The Lanthorn

Grand Valley State second baseman Kevin Zak came into the series at Ohio Dominican with a .500 batting average and a plan: keep it simple at the plate and wait for the right pitch.

The first pitch thrown his way ended up in the trees beyond the wall in left center.

“I’m just riding hot right now,” Zak said. “Baseball is up and down. When you start off on a hot streak or a low streak, it’s amplified -- so it makes (the numbers) stand out a little more. It’s a game of ups and downs, but it’s a lot more fun when you’re on the up.”

The fun didn’t end there for the redshirt senior. 

He deposited two more home runs over the fence during Saturday’s doubleheader, including a grand slam, as GVSU began its GLIAC schedule with 11-1 and 7-3 wins at Panther Valley in Columbus, Ohio.

Sunday wasn’t a fun day, however.

ODU flipped the script by shutting out GVSU for the first time this season, 7-0. The Panthers proceeded to salvage the series split in the nightcap, walking off with a 5-4 victory in 11 innings.

“It’s a disappointing feeling, especially because we played so well on Saturday,” said coach Jamie Detillion. “It’s frustrating to end with two losses. It was self-inflicted wounds and mistakes that cost us.”

Game one of the series was anything but frustrating for GVSU.

Seven different Lakers finished with at least one hit and one RBI as the team scored 11 runs for the second game in a row. Two freshmen came through with multi-hit outings: shortstop Josh Smith from the nine spot (three hits, one RBI) and catcher Connor Glick from the eight spot (two hits).

“One of our biggest strengths is our ability to hit from top to bottom,” Zak said. “That’s going to get us a lot of wins down the road.”

The nine-inning nightcap had a similar result offensively -- but more Zak. The Novi, Mich. native belted a two-run shot in the fourth inning before blasting a grand slam to make it 7-0 in the eighth. All three of his home runs came on 0-0 counts. He finished 2-for-4 in game two with six RBIs, and became the first GVSU player to hit three roundtrippers in a doubleheader since Giancarlo Brugnoni (2013).

“As one of our team captains, he does a good job of staying humble and staying focused,” catcher John McLaughlin said of Zak. “He’s doing his job -- just always super quiet and staying within himself.

"He never gets too high or too low.”

On the mound, GVSU had a pair of impressive performances from Aaron Jensen and Patrick Kelly. Jensen (3-0) went the distance in seven innings, giving up just six hits and one earned run. Kelly (1-1) also threw seven innings in game two, surrendering seven hits and no earned runs.

But in game three on Sunday, ODU ace Ryan Colegate stole the spotlight by serving up a two-hit gem. GVSU’s Tim Tarter (0-1) took the loss, giving up seven hits and three earned runs.

“Kid threw a good game,” Detillion said of Colegate. “Kept us off balance.”

In game four, the Lakers saw clutch hitting from leadoff man Mike Nadratowski -- who supplied a two-RBI double that tied the game at 4-4 in the eighth inning -- but were unable to score in extras. 

The Panthers scored on a fielder’s choice in the 11th frame.

“Our bullpen guys came in the game and weren’t very effective throwing strikes,” Detillion said. “When the bullpen doesn’t throw strikes you’ll be searching for some other answers when you’re trying to win games. Unfortunately we came up a little bit short.”

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